By Dennis Hartley
Forget O.J. Simpson. This will surely be the new Trial of the Century:
A jury trial is now set for a lawsuit that says members of Led Zeppelin plagiarized a key element of the best-selling song “Stairway to Heaven.” The estate of Randy Wolfe, the late guitarist of the band Spirit, initially filed the federal lawsuit two years ago.
On Friday, U.S District Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled that there’s enough evidence to move ahead with a trial to decide whether Led Zeppelin and guitarist Jimmy Page unfairly appropriated the guitar line from the Spirit song “Taurus,” which Wolfe — performing as Randy California — wrote years before “Stairway to Heaven” was released in 1971.
The lawsuit was filed with a Philadelphia court back in 2014, the same year Led Zeppelin released a newly remastered version of “Stairway to Heaven.” A year later, the venue was changed to California, to the same court that recently ruled in favor of the estate of Marvin Gaye in its copyright infringement lawsuit over the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines,” by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.
Among the claims in the lawsuit against Led Zeppelin: that the band perpetrated a “falsification of Rock n’ Roll History.” In his order, Klausner finds that claim “inventive—yet legally baseless,” saying that he diligently sought out anything that might support the theory.
Klausner also removed Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones from the suit, along with music publishers Super Hype and Warmer Music. That leaves Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as the leading defendants in the case.
Pagey and Percy, rockin’ the docket? Talk about a witch hunt…
Live from Jimmy’s house
That’s the story of rock ‘n’ roll, man…stealing riffs! After all, there’s only 7 major chords. Look at how many classic songs Buddy Holly was able to write using just three of them (A, E, & D). And even Buddy did a little creative “borrowing”, way back in the 1950s:
…sounds awfully close to an earlier Bo Diddley song:
…which was hijacked again over 30 years later, by George Michael:
Another classic example…starting with Neil Diamond in 1967:
…which obviously influenced:
…and re-emerged later as:
Perhaps this is all best summed up by one of my favorite 70s bands:
So endeth the lesson.